Huskies Present Big Challenge for UML
BILLERICA -- On Oct. 26, Northeastern was the better team, winning 4-1 in Lowell.
Fifteen days later, in Boston, the Huskies again came out on top of UMass Lowell, overcoming a pair of two-goal deficits to top the River Hawks in overtime, 5-4.
Meeting No. 3 is Friday at Matthews Arena on Northeastern’s campus. Much is at stake for the 17th-ranked River Hawks (14-8-2, 8-4-2 Hockey East) in their lone game of the weekend.
“We have to show we’ve improved,” UML head coach Norm Bazin said Wednesday morning after practice at the Hallenborg Pavillion. “You’ve got to eliminate their time and space because if you don’t they can cause a lot of damage. This will be an excellent test for us.”
Twelfth-ranked Northeastern (15-7-1, 9-5-1) is tied with Boston College for second place in Hockey East. UML sits one point back in a tie for fourth with Boston University.
“The first game against them, they were the better team, plain and simple,” Bazin said of facing Northeastern. “The second one, you never like giving up leads. We haven’t had too many of those in the last seven years.”
Northeastern netminder Cayden Primeau starred for the U.S. at the World Juniors. He has a 2.44 goals against average and .920 save percentage.
Bowling Green transfer Brandon Hawkins (7-14-21) leads NU in scoring, followed by shifty 150-pound freshman Tyler Madden (8-12-20), the son of former New Jersey Devils star John Madden.
While Northeastern is coming off a weekend in which it was swept by Providence, UML extended its unbeaten streak (6-0-1) with a 3-1 win at BC and a 4-4 tie with BC in a game in which the River Hawks trailed twice by two goals only to earn a point.
“I thought it was an electric night,” Bazin said of Saturday’s tie at the Tsongas Center. “We showed a lot of resiliency, a lot of resolve. Against Boston College, that’s no small task. I thought we showed the blue collar effort Lowell is known for.”
FRESH FACES: UML’s freshman class continues to shine. Defenseman Chase Blackmun claimed a goal and two assists in the weekend series against BC. Meanwhile, forward Reid Stefanson led UML’s attack Friday with a two-goal effort on the road.
Stefanson leads River Hawks rookies with 11 points.
“Once you get a certain number of games under your belt, you get out of that freshman stage,” Stefanson said. “The older guys were great with us from the first day here.”
By the way, don’t try to tell Stefanson it’s cold in these parts, even with that Artic front moving in -- he’s from Winnipeg.
LOOSE PUCKS: Senior forward Ryan Dmowski has scored at least a goal in five straight games and his game-winning goal Friday was his team-leading fifth of the season. He has six goals and two assists in his last eight games. ... Friday’s meeting will be the 120th in the UML-Northeastern rivalry. UML leads 61-48-10. ... Tewksbury native Connor Sodergren, a sophomore, is tied with Dmowski with 16 points, second most on the team, and his +15 plus/minus rating leads the River Hawks. ... UML players wore jerseys carrying the names of Lowell’s major neighborhoods in Saturday’s game. It might have been tough on NESN’s broadcasters trying to call the game, but the jerseys were a big hit.
“It brings the city of Lowell together,” Sodergren said, “and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Follow Barry Scanlon on Twitter@BarryScanlonSun